No play without fools

A German verse by the Swiss writer Pamphilus Gengenbach (1480-1525) affirms that in the 16th century, the fool enjoyed a strong presence on stage, since scarce any play could open without one:

There’s scarce a play that can begin

Without a fool who steps right in,

And so it is with this one too.


Selten ein spil wirt gfangen an

Dass nit auch musz ein narren han

So ist er auch in diesem spil

Source: Pamphile Gengenbach (1545-46) (Hanover, 1856), p. 292, quoted in Emile Picot, La sottie en France: fragment d’un répertoire historique et bibliographique de l’ancien théâtre français (Nogent-le-Rotrou: Impr. Daupeley-Gouverneur, 1878), p. 15.


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